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Streit top candidate to be Isles' captain

Islanders defenseman Mark Streit is congratulated after scoring

Islanders defenseman Mark Streit is congratulated after scoring a goal during the first period against the Rangers at Nassau Coliseum. (March 30, 2010) Photo Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

Mark Streit lost last season to a freakish shoulder injury right around this time last year.

There's a chance he'll be able to replace the bad memories of last training camp Wednesday.

The Islanders will announce a new captain Wednesday. Streit, the captain of the Swiss national team and the most successful NHL player from that country, fits the mold of what the Islanders want in a captain: a veteran and lead-by-example type of player.

"That would be thrilling and a huge honor," Streit, 33, said. "I would love to do it. This is a great team and I'll be really proud to captain this team. We have a good mix of young players, veteran players -- it'd be unbelievable."

His importance to the team and the defense was underscored last season, when shoulder surgery cost him the entire year -- the first serious injury he'd suffered in six NHL seasons with the Canadiens and the Islanders, who signed Streit to a five-year, $20.5-million contract in July 2008.

Without Streit anchoring the defense -- he averaged 25:41 of ice time in 2009-10, eighth in the NHL -- the Islanders gave up 188 even-strength goals, tied for most in the league.

After spending much of the regular season rehabilitating at home in Switzerland, Streit tried to return for game action in the final month but wasn't permitted to do so.

"I was obviously upset and just wanted the year to be over," he said. "This summer, I did my whole program; the only thing different is I skated more in August, at home. Other than that, I feel really good on the ice, so I was positively surprised."

It will be no surprise to one of his young teammates if Streit is named captain.

"He's so big back home, everyone who knows about hockey knows who he is," said Nino Niederreiter, who's bidding to become the fourth Swiss skater to earn a regular spot in the NHL. "He's a great guy and a good guy to look up to."

The Islanders' luck with captains has been shaky over the last few seasons. Alexei Yashin's captaincy ended after two seasons with his 2007 buyout; Bill Guerin was traded at the 2008-09 deadline after less than two seasons, and Doug Weight played just 54 games in his two seasons wearing the 'C' before he retired and joined the coaching staff.

Streit has two seasons left on his contract, but if he can return to the level of play he reached his first two seasons as an Islander, it may not be another quick captaincy turnover. A little success for the team would help, too.

"It's going to be a challenge and it's important that everybody realizes we need 100 percent every night," Streit said. "We can't have any passengers."

Notes & quotes: D Andrew MacDonald (hip) and C Marty Reasoner (knee) missed practice again, and neither is likely to play either of the upcoming preseason games in Boston Friday or at home against the Devils Saturday.

New York Sports